Can multilateralism survive? Examining the future of development policy

International cooperation is under threat along several dimensions: a mounting trade war, stalled global trade talks and the questioning of global institutions by some prominent countries. The media focus is mainly on what this means for wealthy countries, but what does it mean for the rest of the world?

Developing nations already seem to be suffering the consequences. Aid flows to least developed countries are stagnating. The promotion of private financing risks displacing public funds. The number of bilateral trade agreements is increasing, favouring the powerful rather than the worst-off. The defunding of certain multilateral agencies affects women more than men. Inequality within and between countries remains unacceptably high and is in many cases rising. Poorer countries will suffer most from a failure to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets.

What do these trends mean for development policy? Should we press for a return to the old order, or is a pragmatic response required? Does instability even herald opportunity, as the emerging and existing institutions of the global South come to the fore? How should governments in the global South respond? What are the roles of the UN, multilaterals and bilateral trading partners and donors?

A cast of distinguished panellists will try to provide some answers at an open session of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) at UN Headquarters on 12 March from 3 – 4:45 pm.

The session will feature speakers Winifred Byanyima, Oxfam International’s Executive Director and a women’s rights leader and a global authority on economic inequality; Ha-Joon Chang, Director of the Centre of Development Studies at Cambridge University and author of 15 books including Economics: The User’s Guide; Kevin Gallagher, Director of the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University and co-author of The Clash of Globalizations: Essays on Trade and Development Policy; and Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL) and author of The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy.

The event will be moderated by José Antonio Ocampo, and streamed live via UN Web TV.

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